Mill Street Clowne. 1950

A Memory of Clowne

The gentleman pushing a cart in the foreground of this picture is my grandfather, Ernest Pearce (1895-1970). The cart was used to transport bundles of sticks that he cut for sale as firewood. They were sold for 4d a bundle. This was used to supplement his wages when he was a miner and later, as in the photo, during his retirement.

The history of wood cutting in the family goes back to his father, James Herbert Pearce, who used to lease a plot of land at Whitwell Woods and cut wood for sale from his horse and cart.

Grandad was a sniper in the First World War.  He was very lucky as he was shot in the head!  We were allowed to feel the metal plate that had been inserted to treat the injury.  This is incredible when you consider that there was no modern surgical techniques or antibiotics at that time.

Before the Great War grandad used to play football for Sheffield United.  He often walked or cycled to Sheffield to play.

The white building in the background of the picture is/was Bourne's Flour Mill.  Mr Bourne was something of an entrepreneur and well respected businessman.  He started in business as a seed merchant and built up a small empire.  He had a posh limousine in which his wife would ride around the village to do her shopping.  She was a real lady, very kind and friendly. They had two sons, one was killed in the Second World War.  The other son suffered from mental and physical disabilties, so there was no one to carry on the business.

The building which my grandad is stood in front of is the Bowden Arms.  The village boasted eleven drinking establishments, eight pubs and three clubs.  If you wished to repent from all this drinking there was a choice of seven churches or chapels to attend.

There were four bank sub branches in the village (not two).  The Co-operative Bank was housed in the extensive CWS buildings further up the street.  The TSB in a building near one of the two railway stations.
There was also the Post Office Savings if you were brave enough to face the wrath of the manager, Miss Hanford.  Miss Hanford was a local legend, a very forthright person who would always speak her mind without any consideration to diplomacy.  Even grown men who were tough miners paid their respects to her and were somewhat in awe of her.  Being at the centre of communications at that time she knew everything that was happening in the village before the people concerned did!

Clowne was a thriving commercial centre at this time because people did not have cars.  It was boasted that you could buy everything you would need in a lifetime within the village: from pram shop to the undertakers and everything in between. Sometimes goods could arrive by rail: some of the shops in nearby Chesterfield and Worksop would put your purchases on the bus to Clowne and they could be picked up by arrangement at a specific stop or at the depot.

There was entertainment to suit all, from Boy Scouts and other childrens' clubs to the local 'house of ill repute' which was on the village green: for some reason this was called 'The Blue Hens'.

The scene today -

Bourne's Mill was demolished on the 1970's and has recently been replaced by a large Tesco store which is fronted by a modern sculpture of Dameter, the beauty of which could be debated.  

The main structures still remain, some with more modern facades, starting at the left foreground:-

Archers, fruit shop is now a betting shop.
Cowell's hardware shop, unchanged except for the name 'WiseBuys'.
Rowbotham's is now a Pizza takeaway shop.
Sketchley's cleaners is now a vet's surgery.
The Bowden Arms closed down long ago and is now a Young People's Advice Centre.

The Banks have all gone, as have many of the small businesses because more people have become car owners and the trend is not to shop within the village anymore.

A memory shared by June Harvey , on Aug 24th, 2007.

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